Engagement Bait

May 08

Engagement Bait

Have you noticed your Facebook engagement has been on a downward spiral lately?

There’s no need to panic.

Although the recent changes to the Facebook algorithm have many marketers sweating, the update isn’t as scary as it seems.

The short of it? Facebook is asking brands to rethink how they earn likes, comments and shares on their posts.

For example, Facebook is explicitly fighting against engagement bait and spammy tactics which they see as undercutting their algorithm.

Facebook now actively discourages posts which basically beg for engagement

The takeaway here is that what might have worked brilliantly for brands in the past might not fly today.

And that’s exactly why brands need an explicit Facebook engagement strategy if they still want that sweet, sweet organic reach.

You don’t need to abandon your current Facebook page or start over from scratch, either. Instead, you just need to consider ways to set your posts up for greater engagement. Below we’ve outlined nine strategies to do exactly that.

Let’s take a look at how to increase engagement on Facebook:

1. Tap into Perfect Timing

The more engagement a post receives, the more likely Facebook’s algorithm is to reward it with reach.

This might seem a bit backward but it speaks to the importance of timing your posts to perfection.

By posting when your followers are most active, you instantly increase the likelihood of getting likes and comments.

And yes, there are data-driven best times to post on social media which can clue you in on what your posting calendar should look like.

The key here is to not just post at random and expect engagement. With the help of the chart below and analyzing your past posts, you can zero in on a schedule that makes sense.

Maximizing Facebook engagement means timing your posts to perfection

We recommend using a Facebook scheduling tool to plan your social media calendar days or weeks in advance. It’ll keep you from forgetting to post and give you the flexibility to test different posting times.

sprout social monthly calendar view

2. Focus on Fan-Centric Content

Many brands make the mistake of putting themselves in a box when it comes to their content.

Let’s say you’re running a Facebook page for your sandwich shop. Should you exclusively post content related to sandwiches?

Of course not.

For starters, there’s only so much that can really be said on a day-to-day basis about your brand or product. As soon as your content starts to feel repetitive or stale, your audience will tune out.

Here’s some food for thought: your Facebook content isn’t all about you. It’s about your fans. They might like you, but that doesn’t mean they only want to hear about you all day long. Once you start to embed that idea into your strategy, increasing Facebook engagement becomes much more realistic.

And if you’re struggling to find ideas for fresh content, you can start by asking yourself a few questions.

Are There Any Relevant Real-World Events to Piggyback?

Pulling from pop culture and current events is a smart move if done tastefully. Check out how Hubspot put out an awesome video on Marvel’s marketing strategy to coincide with the release of The Avengers: Infinity War.

Found Any Fascinating Facts or Stats Related to Your Fans Lately?

Infographics and shocking statistics are prime for discussion and debate, both of which are huge pieces of Facebook engagement. Activity in the comment sections spells good news to the updated algorithm.

Have You Made Your Fans Laugh Lately?

Like it or not, Facebook has become a hotbed for memes and humorous content. Although humor not might be the perfect fit for every brand, funny content typically performs well and is a lighthearted way to diversify your posts.

It might be tempting to simply talk about yourself, but that’s not going to drive much engagement. Strive to stick to the golden rule of rule of content curation that says only 20% of what you post should be self-promotional.

Besides, filling your feed with a variety of content will always keep your followers looking forward to what’s next.

Oh, and if you want to have instant access to fresh pieces your audience will love, tools such as content suggestions from Sprout can do the digging so you don’t have to.

If you're struggling for content ideas, consider how Sprout can make suggestions for you

3. Analyze Your Most Popular Posts

Sometimes the key to increasing Facebook engagement is to look inward.

Let’s say you have a post that knocks it out of the park. Tons of likes and shares, and plenty of love in the comment section.

Rather than treat that post as an anomaly, you should instead take steps to recreate the same social magic again.

Maybe it was an unexpected meme. Perhaps it was an epic case study.

Either way, you should have a pulse on your top-performing content instead of playing guessing games. Again, your fans’ activity is key to understand what to post.

To better break down that activity, take a close look at your Facebook analytics to see firsthand what’s receiving the most reach. The answer might very well surprise you.

Facebook Sent Message Report

4. Step Up Your Photo Game

Visual content totally kills it on Facebook–plain and simple.

Photos make up the overwhelming majority of content on the platform, signaling that people would much rather engage with a visual than a link or wall of text. So if you want to improve Facebook engagement, get visual.

However, the type of images you post make a massive difference in terms of performance.

Many budding businesses make the mistake of relying on stock photos or images pulled from elsewhere rather than creating their own content.

Instead, brands should strive to show the personality behind their business. There’s a reason why photos “in the wild” are so popular from big brands, as are stories from employees.

After all, it’s the social network, not the stock photo network.

Also, keep in mind that images can be powerful tools to encourage serial scrollers to stop in their tracks and look at your posts. Images containing striking colors and stunning landscapes typically do well, as evidenced by brands like GoPro who kill it with their photo content.

5. Prioritize Comments & Replies

Improving your Facebook page engagement isn’t a “one and done” affair.

If someone takes the time to comment on your content, you should return the favor yourself.

People overwhelmingly want to interact with brands, which is the reason why so many businesses that reply to comments score more interactions.

And by the way: replies have become an expectation in today’s social space. Given that people respect a social response within four hours of commenting, timely responses are a game-changer.

Replying to comments on your post it not only a way to signal engagement to Facebook, but also keep your fans happy

If nothing else, taking the time to reply to fans shows that you’re listening to them. This is a good look from a branding perspective and also encourages more interaction among fans in the future.

6. Tailor Your On-Site Content for Facebook

Likes, shares and comments aren’t just vanity metrics. These pieces of engagement serve as valuable data points for the type of content that people actually want to see.

That’s why you should translate what’s performing well on Facebook to your own content on-site.

After all, your business’ blog is about so much more than SEO. Sure, you might be wary of the constant listicles and borderline clickbaity stuff you see on Facebook, but the metrics don’t lie.

Looking at the most popular social posts from 2017 as highlighted by Buzzsumo, here’s some insight into the sort of content that makes people click without fail:

  • Heartwarming stories
  • Quizzes
  • Shocking or surprising statistics
  • How-to guides and supportive content
  • Opinion pieces that take bold stances
Quizzes and debate-worthy content typically perform well on Facebook

Tailoring your blog content for Facebook doesn’t mean compromising quality or resorting to clickbait, though.

It’s all in the presentation.

Titles that pique people’s interest. Setting up your readers for a punchline. By crafting your posts this way, you automatically set them up for more Facebook engagement.

7. Couple Your Posts with a CTA

As noted, Facebook is trying to lead brands away from excessive “TAG YOUR FRIENDS!” or “SMASH THAT LIKE BUTTON IF YOU…” posts.

That said, including a call to action within your posts is totally fair game. Doing so provides your fans with a voice and reminds them that they want to hear from you.

A quick and easy way to do so is to simply tack a question onto your posts. You could also consider coming up with a series of content where you regularly pick your followers’ brains.

Encouraging comments, debate and discussion are a-okay, just don’t beg for them.

8. Upload Video Content Directly to Facebook

Facebook isn’t shy about how much they love video content on their platform.

As part of the recent algorithm update, Facebook explicitly notes how well native video performs. They encourage brands to post videos to drive discussion among their followers.

This means simply copy-and-pasting a link to your recent YouTube video as a post isn’t going to cut it.

Instead, brands should upload directly to Facebook’s platform if possible. Whether it’s animations, commercials or jumping on Facebook Live, regularly uploading video content on Facebook regularly is a smart move supported by the platform itself.

9. Shorten Your Posts

When in doubt, keep your posts as brief as possible.

Remember: there’s a good chance you’re dealing with scrollers and mobile users. Treating your posts like novels creates more opportunities for readers to lose interest and likewise miss your CTA.

Consider the following bite-sized post types we see all the time such as:

  • Quick questions to followers
  • Quotes or stats from an article that require a click for more context
  • Snappy or witty statements coupled with a picture

Seriously, though. A sentence is all you need to grab someone’s attention and guide them to click through.

And this all serves as a reminder that winning interactions on Facebook doesn’t have to be complicated.

Do You Have a Facebook Engagement Strategy?

At the end of the day, what matters most is simply having some sort of Facebook engagement strategy. Period.

If you look at the top brands on Facebook, you’ll notice that they’re consistently posting and interacting with followers. On the flip side, dead pages are the ones that simply parrot their own content and make no effort to, well, engage.

The good news? You can start implementing these tips into your Facebook strategy ASAP without lifting a finger.

We want to hear from you, though. What do you see the best brands on Facebook do to win comments and shares? Let us know in the comments below!

This post 9 Ways Increase Facebook Engagement In an Algorithm-Crazed World originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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